Delhi liquor policy: ED conducts search operations at 40 locations

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday launched search operations at 40 locations across the country in connection with its money laundering probe into the Delhi liquor policy case. Sources said searches are being carried out in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nellore (Andhra Pradesh), Chennai and Delhi-NCR.

Sources added that the searches are largely on the premises of vendors, distributors and middlemen suspected to be associated with the case and do not include premises of any Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader.

The raids come a day after the BJP released a video of yet another ‘sting operation’ against AAP, alleging that an accused in the liquor scam can be heard saying that the now-scrapped excise policy was formulated in a way that a select few got benefits.

On September 6, the ED had conducted searches at 35 locations across Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Chennai, Chandigarh and Jalandhar, among others, in the case.

The ED registered a case of money laundering in the matter in the first week of September on the basis of a CBI FIR against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and 14 others.

The CBI FIR had stated: “Praveen Kumar Rai, Director, MHA…has conveyed directions of competent authority for enquiry into the matter of irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy of GNCTD of Delhi for the year 2021-22 by Central Bureau of Investigation. He has also forwarded a letter of L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena alleging irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy. The OM is enclosed herewith, which discloses that Manish Sisodia, deputy CM; Arava Gopi Krishna, then commissioner (excise); Anand Tiwari, then deputy commissioner (excise); and Pankaj Bhatnagar, assistant commissioner (excise) were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for the year 2021-22 without approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licencees post tender.”

“Apart from the above, reliable sources have revealed that Vijay Nair, former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company; Manoj Rai, ex-employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, owner of Brindco Spirits; and Sameer Mahendru, owner of Indospirit, are actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy,” the CBI further said in its FIR.

“Source further revealed that some of the L-1 licence holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors with an ab-initio intention to divert the funds as undue pecuniary advantage to public servants. In furtherance to this, they are showing false entries in their books of accounts to keep their record straight. Source further revealed that Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt Limited, Gurgaon; Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey are close associates of Manish Sisodia and are actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licencees to accused public servants. Source further revealed that Sameer Mahendru, MD, Indospirit, has transferred an amount of one crore to the account of Radha Industries. Radha Industries is being managed by Dinesh Arora. Source further revealed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Sameer Mahendru for onward transmission to accused public servant through Vijay Nair,” it added.

The FIR also said that a person named Arjun Pandey collected an amount of about Rs 2 to 4 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Nair.

“Source has further informed that Mahadev Liquors, a proprietorship firm, was granted L-1 licence. Sunny Marwah is the authorised signatory of the firm. He is also director in companies/firms being managed by family of Late Ponty Chadha. Source has informed that Sunny Marwah is in close contact with accused public servants and has been regularly giving undue pecuniary advantage to them,” the CBI’s FIR alleged.

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